A tale about the quest for magic and beauty struggles to bring its various parts together, leaving only an impression of what the story might have been.
Crazy old Birdman is an iconic figure in his urban neighborhood, sitting in his wheelchair and feeding pigeons. The neighborhood children, including Toby and Rose, wonder how Birdman could possibly find joy in the filthy birds. Rose is astonished when Birdman tells her he finds the birds beautiful. Rose insists that true beauty comes from flowers and gardens, like those in her library books. "Birds not beautiful," she says. So when Birdman gives her a handful of seeds and tells her to place them on her windowsill, she is skeptical—though hopeful. The ungrammatical speech patterns come across as uneducated rather than childlike, giving the book the tone and feel of something from decades past. The artwork, on the other hand, appears energetic on the verge of frenetic, and the slow-moving language and rip-roaring swirls of color collide without joy or magic.
In the end, good intentions, bright colors, a gentle voice and an agreeable theme do not jell into a successful book. (Picture book. 4-8)